Maddie Bowman's Gold Medal Continues American Dominance in Extreme Sports

Tim KeeneyContributor IFebruary 20, 2014

Maddie Bowman of the United States celebrates after winning the gold medal in the women's ski halfpipe final at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Andy Wong/Associated Press

The Netherlands can have speedskating.

Team USA has leaned heavily on the extreme sports to great success in Sochi, and that trend continued with 20-year-old Maddie Bowman, who put together the two best runs of the ladies' ski halfpipe finals on Thursday en route to a transcendent gold-medal performance.

Skiing on the maligned halfpipe, which has seemingly done whatever possible to limit riders during the past two weeks, Bowman had little trouble twisting and turning her way to a victory.

On her first finals run, she scored an 85.80. NBC's Skyler Wilder pointed out the brilliance of the run, noting Bowman nailed two 900's while very few other skiers were even able to complete one:

That barely put her clear of eventual silver medalist Marie Martinod (84.80) at the time. But with her second run, Bowman put little doubt in the minds of the judges, pulling off a monstrous run to earn a score of 89.00 and easily top the podium. 

Afterward, the young American talked about her win, via USA Today's Lindsay H. Jones:

"The way I've gotten here is taking it one day and one competition at a time and having absolutely as much fun as I could, and hey, it worked out"

Having "fun"—if your definition of fun is breathtaking ski and snowboard rides that seemingly defy gravity—is what many American daredevils have been doing in Sochi, and the results have been unbelievable. 

Bowman's victory marks the eighth gold and 25th overall medal for the United States. With just three days of competition remaining, the Red, White and Blue is now the leader in total medals, while trailing Norway by just two for most golds:

More impressively, though, is that of those eight golds, six have come via freestyle skiing or snowboarding, and of the 25 total shiny treasures, nearly half (12) are thanks to those same sports. 

Only Canada (three golds, nine total) is close to the Americans in the extreme events. 

Moreover, 12 new events were introduced to the 2014 Olympics, including ski halfpipe, ski slopestyle and snowboard slopestyle for both men and women. In those six particular debut events, the Americans secured five of six gold medals and eight overall.

Gero Breloer/Associated Press

Thank you, IOC.

The United States has been shut out in speedskating, while several other competitors in other sports have disappointed. Yet, thanks to the dominance at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, they have come away with one of their most successful Winter Games yet, per NBC's Nick Zaccardi:

With this kind of success only building popularity, don't expect this dominance to change anytime soon, either.